Sing like Pottery that’s taken out of the Fire

a1 pottery in kilnThe anticipation of getting to see our finished clay pottery was overwhelming. It was almost like being a young child before we were able to open Christmas presents. We had gone to the Potter’s House and learned about the process from start to finish. Then as if with God’s divine grace the potter let each of us young students make our own piece of pottery. But due to the curing and drying time that it entailed before the firing we left them at the potter’s shop. Now a month later and once they were done being fired in the kiln, they were delivered to our art classroom. The buzz of the news went through the school like a wild fire in the dry prairie.

In 2 Tim 2:20-22 Paul writes young Timothy and uses the allegory of a house and furniture to our spiritual man saying, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work”. Paul in his exhorting Timothy brings out the truth that there are things in our lives that will bring honor to God and His purposes and then there are also things that bring dishonor.

If we will embrace the cleansing and working of God, the Master potter, in our lives we will be purged from anything dishonoring and become vessels of honor. Paul let’s us know that we have a responsibility ourselves as we submit to the potters forming and shaping in our lives. When we yield to His workings then we become useful to the Master and are equipped for His work. To the Ephesians Paul shares this same thought in Eph 2:10, where we read, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. Also to the Roman believers Paul says, “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor”? (Rom 9:20-21)

As I am often taken back to the memory of that tour of the potter’s shop, where I remember the potter saying how the drying time of the clay pottery was so crucial and important. He said it might seem boring, as it should take between 1 to 2 weeks of just sitting and drying, but that you don’t want to hurry the process. When it is prematurely quickened most often it will bring cracks and damage to the clay pot, ending in returning to the soaking and reforming which adds much more time to the process. But when its done right the dry clay pottery goes into the kiln. The kiln is a oven that will perfectly fire the pottery from 1800 up to 2200 degrees. Then to bring beauty and brilliance it is glazed and fired again. When the piece of pottery comes out of the fiery kiln you can tap it with a utensil and it will bring forth a beautiful sound.

In our lives we can see God’s commitment to developing us into vessels of Honor in the same process as the natural potter does to His pottery. We will have times of sitting and drying and seasons of extreme heat being turned up in our lives. Peter says in 1 Peter 4:12-13, “do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice…”. When we embrace the fires in our life, keeping our eyes on Jesus we will be as the pot that sings. Glorifying the Lord!

Advertisements

The Resurrection of Jesus demands that we live for Him!

Thankfulness - sunsetOnce a year, most of the world comes together in the celebration of Christ’s triumphant entry, through the Passover, the crucifixion all the way to the empty tomb! Then it’s back to work on Monday as normal. Now, don’t get me wrong I love this season. It reminds me and re-aligns me with God’s purpose and love!

I am so glad the story of Jesus doesn’t stop at the cross or even at His burial? But, come to think about it, why do we even allow the story to stop at the resurrection? The Story of Jesus’ love for you and I goes on and on! It’s not over once the weekend is done, its actually just beginning. I do understand and have no problem with focusing on these three glorious foundational events annually. The basis of the gospel is most definitely the death, burial and resurrection of Christ! (1 Cor 15:1-4)

Yet, if we aren’t students of the scriptures we can miss so many things in the work of Christ. Peter brings to light that Jesus went to the chained demonic angels, who are awaiting their final judgment and proclaimed that His redemption of mankind was completed!(1 Pet 3:19) During these three days Jesus also took back the dominion from the devil that Adam and Eve had turned over to the deceiver(Gen.1:28, Lk 4:6, Col 2:15) , then Jesus gives it back to his children again once He goes to God the Father.(Matt 28:18-19, Jn 20:17-21, Lk 24:39) Where he also presents and leads the first fruits of the believing saints into heaven.(1 Cor 15:20) The story even continues, in the fact that He shows Himself to his followers over the next forty days before the great ascension.(Acts 1:1-2) But even after all this, Jesus which had foretold the disciples earlier (Jn 14:16-21) refuses to leave His followers by themselves, declaring in Acts 1:4-5, “He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father… “you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’”. The last thing Jesus the resurrected Lord, lets them know before He ascends to the Father in the glory cloud is that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit would empower them to be a witnesses all over the world for Him. (Acts 1:8-10)

What happened on resurrection day is what gives His followers the authority and dominion as His ambassadors and the infilling of the Holy Spirit empowers us to walk victoriously here on this earth. Being confident with our assignment of making disciples and establishing the kingdom of God, knowing Jesus is now seated in heaven next to the Father interceding for us. (Rom 8:34-35) You see, the work of Jesus still continues as He leads us. Not only does Jesus call Himself the Good Shepherd, but also we read in Rev 7:17 that He is still shepherding His people throughout eternity.

Paul writes to the believers in Colosse and says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith”.(Col 2:6-8) Paul is telling the Christian that once they accepted what Jesus has done for them to continue living their life in the benefits and authority of it. Jesus became our substitution and therefore our redeemer from the bondages of the wicked one. His works enable us and demand us to live a life worthy of His calling with confidence. Therefore let me ask you, “What are you doing with the Message of the Cross? Is it nothing more than fooliness to you or is it the Power of God to be His witness”. (1 Cor 1:17) The resurrection of Jesus demands that we live for Him!

Is God Really Concerned about Borders and Walls?

a2- wallsDoes God think walls are immoral and wrong? In His view, are we being unrighteous and unethical by having a fence or walls on our boarders? Looking at the whole of God’s Word and rightly interpreting it’s message brings a overwhelming understanding that God desires for those that choose to follow His standards to guard and watch out for anything that might be a distraction or hindrance to them. In a time of unrest and injustice God speaks through the prophet in Ezek 22:30 saying, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one”. God expects and requires His children to repair and keep the walls effective, not allowing any opposing danger to come in.

My own experience was while growing up each spring, we would have the task of repairing the fences and gates that had fallen down from natural elements, by wild animals or those that had no regard to our property borders. We would load the old yellow four-wheel drive with all the tools that were needed to fix and maintain the fence and walls and head up the mountain. Even though this particular job wasn’t the most easy or enjoyable on the ranch! It was certainly a necessity to secure the things that we


Doesn’t it make common sense to protect our children and keep them safe


held dear to our heart. There were sections that we were able to have fences on, other places that we could only have piled rocks and some places just had barriers like cattle guards, as well as, gates at different locations. It was something we didn’t just talk about but was a constant chore we had to do to keep livestock in and others out.

In the current headlines it is almost overwhelmingly filled with the pros and cons of a border wall. My personal question is, “is it really wrong for us to guard our property or inheritances with a fence or a wall? Doesn’t it make common sense to protect our children and keep them safe, as well as keep out what might hurt them?

Is that wrong or immoral? I understand that there can be abuses at times without monitoring. But, it’s not immoral but on the contrary it is what keeps our morality in tact. Those that think fences, border security and walls are immoral are people that are amoral. In other words they are individuals that are void of or not concerned with any morals or standards at all.

In scripture we see the comparison of natural walls and borders to the spiritual walls and borders we must maintain. A matter of fact in Prov 22:28 it says, “Do not remove the ancient landmark (borders) which your fathers have set.” The scripture is full of exhortations to fill the walls with watchmen, those that keep a lookout for oncoming danger. (Isa 62:6, Isa 52:8, Jer 51:12)

We must be as Nehemiah who was taken into captivity, (Neh. 1-13) and made to serve the Persian King in a culture contrary to God’s standards. He was stirred with a God given burden and through God’s favor and grace rallied his countrymen back in Jerusalem that existed in the rubble of fallen walls and were gripped by fear for the frequent raiding enemies. In the midst of threats and danger they rebuilt the walls and restored the gates. Stopping anything from corrupting God’s plan and standards. It’s time for the children of God to rebuild the walls and standards of righteousness in our land!

 

It might look Hopeless but it’s not over Yet!

Earthquake Destruction1The Scripture says whoever will come after Christ, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Christ. (Mk. 8:34) It doesn’t come easy or cheap, but the effects are life changing. Leonard Ravenhill declares, “Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, GIVE ME REVIVAL in my soul and in my church and in my nation—or GIVE ME DEATH!”

Have you gotten to the place that ordinary routine is nauseating? I believe just religiously going to church, receiving nothing more than entertainment causes decay and a slow spiritual decline. If we are not going to obtain the best God has for us, then we might as well just go home to heaven. The choice is easy—either it is life or death! We must press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God!(Phil 3:14)

In the story of Esther, we see the divine orchestration of God. The Jews were in a desperate situation, with death lurking at the door of their comfort zone. It looked hopeless for they needed a miracle to get themselves out of this tight spot. They didn’t go looking for the hottest and most fiery Jewish evangelist to bring in a change. No! They got on their faces and began to fast and pray. They began to beseech God with fasting and prayer for his intervention and deliverance. In the end the stamp of approval on what she had done was God’s great deliverance for the Jewish people.

Anywhere you look in our society, you can see the destroyer at the door. The thief comes not but to steal, kill, and destroy. (Jn 10:10) Whatever we have, whether it is our life, our family, or our nation, it is his aim to destroy it. America, the great unsinkable land of opportunity, is on a course headed for destruction. The signs are in the sky. The evidence is clear. It is now the time to lay hold of the reason for which Christ has laid hold of us! Let us seek the Lord while he may still be found. I cringe at the thought of ever having the Lord speak about me as he did about Jerusalem. In Luke 19:44 Jesus says, “Because you did not know the time of your visitation,” there would be no peace, and Jerusalem would have destruction. Now is the season of our visitation. It says in Joel 2:28, “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh.”

The church must awake out of its slumber and receive God’s visitation on his people. Then the church will reap in righteousness and see revival. Let us not wait till it’s too late to do something. The night is far spent; the hour is at hand. Using the words of the Psalmist, let us cry out to the Lord, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You.” The church must humble itself and repent from its arrogance and haughty attitudes. Peter speaks to the men of Israel in Acts 3:19. He tells them to, “Repent therefore and be converted,hat your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Only through our brokenness and turning away from sin will we truly see the refreshing of the Lord. The time is now for us to sow in prayer and fasting. Instead of decreasing our prayer time, we need to increase in prayer power. We must search the very intent of our heart and get rid of every hindrance that would stand in the way of revival. Then ask the Lord right now to begin to stoke the fires and passion for revival in your hearts.

Keeping the fire of God burning in your life

hqdefaultIn the midst of the early wintery conditions I found that my fire was essential during my time high on the mountaintop. It was at the foot of the summit overlooking a crisp mountain lake on one side and a steep intimidating ravine on the other, where I chose to set up camp. I had taken time out of my schedule to clear the clutter of the daily routine in my mind and refresh my passion for the Lord. Over the years I have found it necessary at different times to disconnect from the white noise of our society so to reset and re-ignite the fire of God in my daily walk with Him.

We read Gods instructions for the priests that He gave through Moses in Lev 6. It says in verse 12-13, “And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, … it shall never go out.”

In like manner as it was the priest’s responsibility to keep the fire burning it is our responsibility to keep a spiritual fire burning on the altar of our hearts, since our lives are to be “living sacrifices” as Paul declared. It was God who started the physical fire on


God Starts the Fire but we must maintain the Fire


the altar as we read in 2 Chr 7:1, the “…fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices…”. Therefore, it is the same spiritually; God starts the fire, but it is you and I who must keep it burning.

This simple but over looked responsibility became very real as I began my adventure on the mountaintop. That fact is when the fire goes out after the Sun goes down, it quickly becomes cold, dark and so quiet it becomes deafening. It is the same for the believer when our spiritual fire goes out we become spiritually cold, our lives become darkened by our surroundings and the things of God become silent to us.

The pile of wood that I thought would last all-night rapidly diminished in the grips of the consuming fire. I can’t help but think King Solomon himself must of experienced this same phenomenon when he wrote in Prov. 30:16 “… the fire never says, “Enough!”.

The intensity of work that it took to keep a fire burning in my camp was totally amazing. I have always loved sitting and enjoying the soothing crackling and popping of a campfire, but when it is a necessity you find that it goes from enjoyable to just plain work. A fire demands your time, strength and attention to keep it going. Getting plenty of firewood to last through the night must become a priority. You see once the fire goes out it is much harder to remake a completely new fire than nurturing one already burning or at least having embers that you can blow on to rekindle the flame.

In the same manner, as believers we must make fueling the fire of passion for the Lord, a priority! Though it can be exhausting and even inconvenient at times, it is our responsibility. It will take “roll up the sleeves” kind of work to tend the fire of your souls. Prayers, communion, worship and Bible study are all part of keeping the fire burning on the altar of our heart. For God calls each of us to be His ministers a flame of fire. (Ps 104:4) We must do our part! Remember, it is God who started the fire within us but we must keep the fire burning!

 

The Convenience of Instant everything has Brought a slow death to Tenacious Prayer

a1 InstantA society surrounded by the convenience of instant everything, brings a slow death to the tenacious spirit. Many people want prayers answered before their lips stop moving, unfortunately, many times, it doesn’t happen that way. The scriptures teach us in Colossians 4:2, “to continue earnestly in prayer,” and in Romans 12:12, it says “continuing steadfastly in prayer.” We are exhorted to be persistent in our prayer life. Jesus shares a parable in Luke 18:1-8, driving home the point of persistent prayer. It says, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily…” When I was young, I was told that if I asked or prayed for something more than once I would be


Many people want prayers answered before their lips stop moving, unfortunately, many times, it doesn’t happen that way


praying in unbelief. That’s totally contrary to scripture! The continual knocking or coming to the judge brought the widow’s answer. The Bible does say in James 1:6-8, that we must have faith when we pray, but being continuously in prayer doesn’t mean you have unbelief. On the contrary, I think it indicates that you do have faith in God. Your action of continual asking shows you believe He will answer. I like what Marilyn Hickey says, “Prayers are like seeds that are watered daily. Different ones take different lengths of time to sprout and to grow.” If you think about the farmer’s process, he plants his seed then waters it day after day until he sees a sprout breaking through the soil. The farmer is like the diligent believer who plants his seed and then through continual prayers of faith waters it until the answer breaks through and comes to pass. Keeping with this analogy, if praying continually is wrong then the farmer watering his seed daily would also be wrong. Let’s look at I Kings 18:41-45. We see Elijah telling Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of an abundance of rain.” Then Elijah went to the top of Mt. Carmel to pray. That’s when this story gets very interesting. After Elijah prayed, he sent


“Prayers are like seeds that are watered daily. Different ones take different lengths of time to sprout and to grow.”


his servant to look for rain clouds. Six times his servant checked and didn’t see anything, Elijah continued in prayer. The scriptures say, “Then it came to pass the seventh time that he said, ‘There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!’ The downpour from that small cloud broke three and a half years of drought. This all happened because Elijah wouldn’t quit praying—he had faith to be steadfast in prayer. Living a life of prayer will always be a life of adventure and power. Ephesians 6:18 tells us, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication … with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” In other words be tenacious and persistent in prayer. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the answer to your prayers immediately. Keep knocking on Heaven’s door.

The First Step can be the Hardest

images-62I would imagine we all have experienced times where we are gripped with fear of the unknown. Like my sister and brother who when they were younger took skydiving lessons. Yes, they jumped out of perfectly good airplanes at 13,000 ft above the earth. They said the hardest part of their adventure was the first step out of the plane into the unknown atmosphere. Wow! I don’t want to even imagine how I might feel. I would probably scream like a baby.

Let me say no matter how old or rickety the plane might be, it’s made to fly and becomes a comfort zone for those in it. But, when we are faced with defying the established laws of the universe, as those who are expected to jump out of a plane are, you will more than likely get hit in the face with fear, doubt and anxiety. Why, because we weren’t made to fly.

With that in mind let’s look at Matt 14:23-33, where Jesus sends the disciples by boat to the other side before Him. Being in a boat on the water was a comfortable and familiar way of life and for some like Peter and Andrew it was where they had


It’s only when you get out of your boat do you see the miracles of God. 


made their living. Yet, things were radically going to change in their surrounding and life. A boisterous storm moves in changing the atmosphere and out of the dark Jesus comes walking on the water overturning their comfort and ultimately challenging their faith. Thinking Jesus could be a ghost fear began to grip and overtake them. With calming words of “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Jesus speaks to them. But Peter wanting more evidence, like a child saying to his peers “prove it”. He blurts out, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” The vary fact that Peter would even consider asking this was mind-boggling. What he asked shows that he believed that Jesus had the power to override any earthly limitations or laws. I believe a mixture of assurance and dread came over him when Jesus answered with the word, “Come”.

It was probably like the feeling my brother and sister felt when it was time to jump out of the plane. That first step of transitioning from security and familiarity over to the unknown is one many will never overcome. But if never taken there is the absent of experiencing the wonders and adventure of over-riding the established


God doesn’t want us to stay where were at but to crossover to the other side


limitations. When Peter acted on the word of Jesus, which revealed his understanding of who he understood Jesus as, he walked on water. Peter began to move in another dimension, one that none has ever walked in to the same extent. He not only gets the award for being the only one to walk on water but more importantly he confirmed to himself the belief that Jesus was able to empower him Continue reading